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Chicago Cheap Eats: 10 of The Most Iconic Meals Under $10

BY: Editors | Aug 8, 2019

Italian beef, barbecue, Maxwell Street polish sausages, craft beer—Chicago is home to countless iconic (and cheap) eats. But with massive options comes massive indecision. To help, we curated this list of our 10 favorite Chicago cheap eats under $10. Grab a sawbuck and get ready to dig in.


Polish Sausage at Jim's Original Hot Dog

2050 S. Union Ave. | Little Italy - University Village

Chicago is known for its fully loaded hot dogs (don't worry, we've got one of those on this list too), but there's another famous sausage in town: the Maxwell Street polish hot dog. Founder Jimmy Stefanovic invented the renowned dog almost 70 years ago, and the rest is caramelized-onion-topped history ($4.50 with fries and free pop).


Deep-Dish Pizza at Pequod's Pizza

2207 North Clybourn Ave. | Lincoln Park

There are a lot of deep-dish heavyweights in town, and they all have their fans, but most locals point to this spot as the best in town thanks to its signature caramelized-cheese crust. Drop in on a weekday from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. for the lunch special and you can enjoy your own 7-inch personalized version ($4.95 with free soda).


Cemita Sandwich at Cemitas Puebla

3129 West Armitage Ave. | Logan Square

Chicago is a mecca for cheap tacos, but lovers of authentic Mexican eats find something even more special here: the cemita, a sandwich you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else outside of Puebla, Mexico. Each one starts with a homemade roll and is topped with al pastor, carne asada, or one of seven other fillings ($7.95).


Fried Chicken at Harold's Chicken Shack

124 East 35th St. | Bronzeville

No itinerary of the best places to eat in Chicago would be complete without a stop at this beloved comfort-food spot, widely considered the best fried chicken in town. Prices can vary by location, but expect to pay around $10 for a quarter-chicken dinner with slaw and hot sauce.


Italian Beef Sandwich at Al's Italian Beef

3420 N. Clark St. | Wrigleyville

No Chicago foodie quest would be complete without at least one Italian beef sandwich. And there's no better place to visit than this beloved institution, which has been dishing out the juicy delicacies since 1938. ($6.59; prices vary by location).

Smoked Fish at Calumet Fisheries

3259 E. 95th St. | Far South Side

This tiny road-side shack might not look like much, but that's only because you've yet to taste its natural wood-smoked salmon, trout, or sturgeon. Once you do, you'll realize why so many experts consider it one of the top cheap restaurants in Chicago. Smoked fish is priced by the pound, but the equally delicious fried shrimp and fish dinners can all be had for well under $10 per half-order.


Hot Dog at Gene & Jude's

2720 River Rd. | River Grove

This iconic hot dog stand open since 1946 is famous for adding its own spin to the Chicago-style hot dog (they top the whole thing with french fries). It's totally worth the line, and at just $3, may just be one of the best cheap eats in Chicago.


Pork Belly Bao at Slurping Turtle

116 West Hubbard St. | Near North Side

The signature ramen bowls fall just out of range of our $10 Chicago cheap eats limit, but you can heartily enjoy the pillowy steamed buns, also stuffed with daikon-arugula salad, pickles, spicy mustard, and soy-ginger glaze, for just $4 a pop.


Cake and Coffee at Lutz Cafe & Pastry Shop

2458 W Montrose Ave. | Ravenswood

This family-owned bakery has been whipping up sweet treats since 1948. Pair a slice of strawberry whipped cream cake (a crowd-favorite at $4.99), with the super-fancy Vienna coffee service, served on a silver tray ($3.75).


Breaded Steak Sandwich at Ricobene's

252 West 26th St. | Bridgeport

Maybe you heard about the time USA Today named Ricobene's breaded steak sandwich the best sandwich in the world? No? It's OK if you don't buy into the hype, it just means more sandwiches for us ($8.29).



BY: Editors

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